Most of the Western literature “canon” is written by men. You could be forgiven for thinking women were a recent invention, based on the records most of us have left for most of recorded history. They are so sparse! Women are almost always just in the background: making the tea, waiting to get married or looking after everyone else. I’m really excited Women’s Words Manchester exists, to help redress that balance by archiving the voices of so many women. 

Holly Matthies

I plan to write something for this project because even though I feel very ordinary. I love reading about other “ordinary” people. I suppose many of us feel like our own lives are rather dull, just because we’re immersed in them 24/7! To someone who isn’t used to your routines, your living arrangements, the people you surround yourself with or how you spend your days, these are all fascinating. It’s easy to say “everyone’s life is valuable” but then sometimes a struggle to think that includes you too!

Next year marks one hundred years since some women started being able to vote in Britain, and it’ll also be the first time I can vote here, after twelve years of living here, because I was finally able to get UK citizenship a few months ago.

Nothing convinced me of the importance of voting like not being able to for so long!  Feeling like I had no voice even on things like who takes care of the bins turns out to be really frustrating, and dispiriting. You won’t find anyone as excited for council elections as me next time!

I’ve lived in Manchester basically all my adult life. I moved here to marry someone who insists it’s the best city in the world and he doesn’t know why anyone would live anywhere else. Secondary school and then uni in Manchester were an escape for him from the small town he grew up in, but moving to Manchester felt very different for me. It represented great upheaval in my life – moving to another country would’ve been bad enough, but it happened on top of failure and bereavement that left my life on quite a different path from what I thought it could ever be. 

At first I hated the sight of Manchester, associating my external state with my internal one. But of course over time I change and the city changes too: not only is the skyline different now but I feel different when I look at it. I find myself missing old buildings or marvelling at new ones, and being glad I live somewhere that changes so much: it reminds me that I can change too.

words and image provided by Holly Matthies

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